In astronomy, the term compact star (or compact object) refers collectively to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. It would grow to include exotic stars if such hypothetical, dense bodies are confirmed to exist. All compact objects have a high mass relative to their radius, giving them a very high density, compared to ordinary atomic matter. In astronomy, the term compact star (or compact object) refers collectively to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. It would grow to include exotic stars if such hypothetical, dense bodies are confirmed to exist. All compact objects have a high mass relative to their radius, giving them a very high density, compared to ordinary atomic matter. Compact stars are often the endpoints of stellar evolution, and are in this respect also called stellar remnants. The state and type of a stellar remnant depends primarily on the mass of the star that it formed from. The ambiguous term compact star is often used when the exact nature of the star is not known, but evidence suggests that it has a very small radius compared to ordinary stars. A compact star that is not a black hole may be called a degenerate star. The usual endpoint of stellar evolution is the formation of a compact star. Most stars will eventually come to a point in their evolution when the outward radiation pressure from the nuclear fusions in its interior can no longer resist the ever-present gravitational forces. When this happens, the star collapses under its own weight and undergoes the process of stellar death. For most stars, this will result in the formation of a very dense and compact stellar remnant, also known as a compact star. Compact stars have no internal energy production, but will—with the exception of black holes—usually radiate for millions of years with excess heat left from the collapse itself. According to the most recent understanding, compact stars could also form during the phase separations of the early Universe following the Big Bang. Primordial origins of known compact objects have not been determined with certainty. Although compact stars may radiate, and thus cool off and lose energy, they do not depend on high temperatures to maintain their structure, as ordinary stars do. Barring external disturbances and proton decay, they can persist virtually forever. Black holes are however generally believed to finally evaporate from Hawking radiation after trillions of years. According to our current standard models of physical cosmology, all stars will eventually evolve into cool and dark compact stars, by the time the Universe enters the so-called degenerate era in a very distant future. The somewhat wider definition of compact objects often includes smaller solid objects such as planets, asteroids, and comets. There is a remarkable variety of stars and other clumps of hot matter, but all matter in the Universe must eventually end as some form of compact stellar or substellar object, according to the theory of thermodynamics. The stars called white or degenerate dwarfs are made up mainly of degenerate matter; typically carbon and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. White dwarfs arise from the cores of main-sequence stars and are therefore very hot when they are formed. As they cool they will redden and dim until they eventually become dark black dwarfs. White dwarfs were observed in the 19th century, but the extremely high densities and pressures they contain were not explained until the 1920s.